In South Sudan, 4.5 million children need humanitarian support: UNICEF

An estimated 1.4 million children are suffering from acute malnutrition

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Thursday 08 July 2021

More than 4.5 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, warned United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), ahead of its 10th anniversary of the country’s independence July 9.

South Sudan experienced bouts of violence, conflict, recurring floods and droughts, which led to high food insecurity, the report titled Respond to our Cry released July 6, 2021 said. 

Food insecurity and conflict have forced several families to leave South Sudan

At least 1.4 million children are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition this year in the African country, the report flagged. As many as 313,000 children are expected to suffer from the worst form of malnutrition and are at risk of dying if treatment is not provided, warned UNICEF.

South Sudan has the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world. According to the report, limited access to education and high drop-out rates have left 2.8 million children out of school and the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed an additional two million children out of school.

The humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is a child rights crisis. The commitments to children that are detailed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child — which South Sudan ratified in 2015 — have not been met so far.

The children there face threats such abduction, communal conflict, displacement and gender-based violence.

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF, said:

“The hope and optimism that children and families in South Sudan felt at the birth of their country in 2011 have slowly turned to desperation and hopelessness. The childhood of many 10-year-old children in South Sudan today has been beset by violence, crises and rights abuses.”

A lack of funding has hampered UNICEF’s work in South Sudan; the UN body has so far received only a third of $180 million appeal it requires to assist the most vulnerable children in 2021.

Donors have already cut their budgets for South Sudan, or have reported that cuts are just around the corner.

8.3 million need humanitarian support there, which is even higher than during the 2013-2018 civil war, which ranged from 6.1 million to 7.5 million people, said UNICEF.

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